The International Writers Magazine: The absence of general
ESSENCE OF EDUCATION
the 29th of March, Alistair Cooke, a prominent Americanised British
subject famous in the broadcasting world, passed away at the age
of 95. An extract from his previous employers obituary read,
"For more that half a century, his weekly broadcasts of Letter
from America for the BBC radio monitored the pulse of life
in the United States and relayed its strengths and weaknesses to
I remember him from
the early 80s when he presented Masterpiece Theatre
on American television, a weekly program of theatrical culture totally
lost in todays entertainment world. Not long ago, a similar yet
lesser-known British character involved in the media was remembered
for the 100th anniversary of his birth. I refer to Sir Malcolm Muggeridge,
Cambridge graduate, journalist, Communist turned Roman Catholic, who
died on the 14th of November 1990. Although few people remember this
extraordinary controversial figure that travelled the world as teacher
and journalist, from Russia to Egypt and India, he managed to captivate
television audiences for over two decades from the 60s throughout
the 80s. My own recollection was a program he once presented on
British television called The question: Why? The program
was captivating, as was the ability of Sir Malcolms questioning
that caused the audience to think and reflect on whatever subject matter
came to mind on his agenda. Alistair Cooke, on the other hand, was both
gentle and assertive. He was, above all, everlasting as his 58 years
of continuous broadcasting over the airwaves demonstrated. What did
both gentlemen have in common? Although one was controversial and obnoxious
and the other spoke with an iron rod wrapped in velvet silk, they were
both expert communicators.
The art of imparting knowledge is based on the knack to communicate.
This is the ability of a speaker to command and maintain the attention
of an audience no matter how dull or unimportant a subject matter may
be. Teachers are no different to journalists or television presenters
or any other persons dedicated to the transfer of information. The skills
required instilling the discipline of listening and reading as well
as the interest that results in the intake of knowledge is equally important.
Education systems the world over and from time immemorial were developed
by humans who had the drive and the objective of communicating their
experience and knowledge to the younger generations for their survival
and future success. This was the essence of education that in turn was
required for the continuation of civilisation. Yet education comprises
more than just communications. Thats right. There are the seedier
sides of education known as manipulation.
Every civilisation, every government, every religious organisation has
had a finger in the subject since Adam and Eve were invented. The Incas
and Aztecs had a system until the Spaniards annihilated them and introduced
their own. The American Indians were too close to nature and humanity
for the white man to understand, so they got the third degree and were
confined to barracks, read reservations. Jesus Christ preached the word
of God as a form of religious following for future generations, whilst
Allah and Mohamed used the Koran with similar intentions. Love
Thy Neighbour and all that jazz was the main theme. Trouble is
that religious education has had the opposite effect and more hatred,
blood and strife is created in the name of God than ever before.
Then we have the politicians. Hitler created the Nazi Youth movement
to promote the chosen race. Children were brainwashed in
the subject and ended up murdering millions of other inferior
beings. Stalins Communist school programs were based on equality
for all mankind and look at the trouble that caused during the Cold
War. We, in the Western world, believe in democracy and freedom including
choice of education. So what have we created? A new generation of brainwashed
morons incapable of thinking for themselves without the help of Microsoft.
But what about the poor?
The gap between the haves and have-nots has grown exponentially. The
difference between the rich and poor nations over the last few decades
has also had its toll on education. Whilst many children who are starving
in poorest Africa, or Latin America cannot read or write and are not
even able to attend a school, the kids up North are so educated that
they need computers to do their homework. Aside from malnutrition and
starvation the lust for knowledge no matter how basic is still there.
Ask any non-governmental organisation aid worker living in a poor country
about the joy and satisfaction of teaching just simple survival skills
in reading and writing and compare it with the answers of the average
primary school teacher in South London and see what you get. We are
back to saturation in the West and under development in the rest of
I asked my young twelve-year-old son if he wondered how a light
bulb lit up or why images appeared on the screen of a television set,
said a friend of mine the other day. You just switch them on dad,
was the answer I got. Check it out with any member of todays
generation and you will find similar answers to similar questions. They
have lost the inquisitiveness of their forefathers typified in Muggeridges
television program decades ago. They take most modern life for granted.
They are so brainwashed with technology that their grey matter has stopped
functioning in the most essential area, that of applying the question
why? Ask a teenager if he or she knows who Picasso was,
or Einstein or even Hitler and Ill bet they get them all confused.
Hitler was a poet and Einstein a prominent Jewish ruler years ago. As
for Picasso, well hes too obscure to be remembered. Most are too
busy sending messages over their cellphones or watching 'Big Brother'
on TV. School is just one big bore and the wonders of the world are
too insipid for any one of them to take an interest.
Yet who is to blame?
The bottom line is that many grownups in worldwide positions of power
continue to lose the innocence and beauty they inherited as young children
and develop into super communicators of stupidity and hatred. Their
dogmatism and preconceived ideas of how to impart education is based
on their own views of the world and its future. It doesnt matter
in what area, what religious denomination or political colour, it is
all the same. They continue to stumble over the same rock over and over
again. Selfish and misconceived policies of how to prepare the younger
generation for the future battle against unknown odds instead of imposing
love and respect towards the planet as essential for survival. There
are not enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe the horror one
sees in young kids today as they develop into yet another collection
of little fiends of physical and psychological abstraction. Am I wrong?
I repeat, just take a look around you.
I recall a young administrative clerk in London who worked with me and
had trained to be a teacher saying, I quit teaching because the
government kept meddling with education. Everything I learned at college
in order to impart my subjects such as kindness, compassion, ethics
were thrown out of the window because it conflicted with political propaganda.
That was thirty years ago!
© James Skinner. June 2004
James Skinner on torture
Throughly Modern Princesses
James Skinner on royalty
Portugal - 30 Years On
all rights reserved